March 1, 2014

Salt Lake Gains Split Behind Pitching of Jourdan, Carter

Karnos, Roque Key Wildcats’ SWAC-Opening Victory

Pitching decided the outcomes of a Scenic West Athletic Conference-opening baseball doubleheader Saturday at John L. Harvey Field in Carson City.

Freshman right-hander Max Karnos pitched a four-hit complete game to provide Western Nevada College with a 7-1 victory over Salt Lake in the opener, but the Bruins battled back for a 6-2 win in game two behind the stingy hurling of Jason Jourdan and Eric Carter.

“Salt Lake has a good team. We each won one; that’s about right,” WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said.

The Wildcats did most of their damage at the bottom of the lineup in the first game. No. 8 and No. 9 hitters Connor Klein and Roque went a combined 4 for 6 at the plate and knocked in four runs. Roque collected three of the RBI.

“Bottom of lineup wrecks shop,” Roque said in describing his and Klein’s contributions. “We just wanted to come out and play our game.”

The Bruins averted a shutout on Teter’s sacrifice fly with one out in the seventh. Karnos (4-0) allowed four hits in seven innings and walked three and struck out three.

“Max has been winning his whole life. He just throws strikes, he’s got a changeup and he works hard and expects to win,” Whittemore said.

Salt Lake missed a chance to score first when Nick Urban doubled to right field, but Colton Barkdull got a late break from second base and was thrown out on the relay throw from second baseman Connor Klein.

“It just shows that my team has got me no matter what,” Karnos said. “I can just throw strikes and let them make the plays.”

The Wildcats capitalized on their first scoring chance in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded Klein’s groundball up the middle was relayed to first base for an out, but it plated Rayne Raven for a 1-0 Wildcat lead. Tony Roque made it 3-0 when he took an Anthony Dixon offering into right field, scoring Alex Fife and Spenser Dorsey.

“Most of the team today was just staying back behind it and driving the ball into the gaps. We did a great job of that today,” Roque said.

Karnos overcame two walks through the first four innings to keep the Bruins off he scoreboard.

The Bruins threatened in the sixth, putting two runners on base, but Karnos induced Derrick Whitney to ground out to Klein to keep Salt Lake off the scoreboard.

WNC added four insurance runs in its half of the sixth. Raven started the rally with a double to left, moved to second on Fife’s sacrifice bunt and came home on Dorsey’s bloop single to right. With two out, Klein, Roque and Christian Stolo hit back-to-back-to-back doubles, giving the Wildcats a 6-0 edge. Jake Bennett’s single go right field brought home Stolo for a 7-0 WNC lead.

The Wildcats couldn’t figure out Jourdan and Carter in game two, though.

Jourdan surrendered just two hits in six innings, and Carter escaped a couple of jams to preserve the win.

“Jourdan has movement on his fastball, and people can’t see movement on fastballs well. You think you are swinging at a pitch you can hit; you put your swing on it and you bounce the ball to the shortstop,” Whittemore said.

WNC twice took leads against the Bruins, only to see the visitors come back.

Bennett beat shortstop Robert Grilli’s throw home on Harber’s groundball to put WNC on top 1-0 in the third inning.

Salt Lake quickly delivered the equalizer, tying the score on Taylor Snyder’s one-out single to left in the fourth. Wildcat starter Spencer Greer avoided further trouble by freezing Zach Watts with a third-strike curveball to precede a double play by Roque and Austin Andrews.

WNC regained the lead, 2-1, with a two-out rally in the sixth. Raven’s base hit to left was followed by a RBI double by Sam Hall.

Greer settled into a midgame groove, retiring eight straight Bruins at one point, but that dominance unraveled in the seventh. Snyder’s bunt single was the first of five hits off Greer and reliever Jeremy Alderman. Watts and Nick Urban stroked doubles as Salt Lake went ahead 5-2.

The Wildcats mounted a comeback in their half of the seventh after starter Jourdan was removed. The Wildcats filled the bases with one out on two walks and a hit batsman, but Carter came in to stem the rally, retiring Harber on a lineout and Crunkilton on a high fly ball to left.

Carter stranded two more Wildcats on the bases in the eighth, retiring Klein on an infield fly to end the threat.

“Carter might be the best closer in the league. He has a maturity about him and made pitches for strikes,” Whittemore said.

Greer allowed seven hits and five runs in 6 2/3 innings.

“Greer made a lot of good pitches. In my opinion, it might have been his best outing in two years, and that was encouraging,” Whittemore said.

WNC, 12-6 overall and 1-1 in the SWAC, and Salt Lake will meet again in a noon doubleheader Sunday.

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